|Rutendo does us proud|
|Friday, 10 August 2012 00:00|
Emerging mbira-pop singer Rutendo Machiridza has raised the Zimbabwean flag high. Fresh from a month-long European tour, Rutendo is now poised to assert herself on the local music scene. She got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity after Savannah Afros, her backing group, won the Zimbabwean edition of the Music Crossroads competition, an international cultural initiative.
The youthful outfit subsequently qualified for the Music Crossroads Inter-regional finals in Maputo, where they came second.
A European tour for one of the band members was the prize and Rutendo was nominated to participate in Ethno 2012, an annual folk music exchange programme.
According to Rutendo, she left audiences clamouring for more after falling in love with the mbira.
“The response to the music was mind-blowing, and at my first solo concert at Bingsjo in Sweden at Tunet, I received a standing ovation,” the mbira songstress said.
The programme then moved on to Croatia where Rutendo performed at the Balkan City in Groznjan. While there, Rutendo got another standing ovation from the audiences as well as fellow musicians.
“This meant a lot to me since musicians are hard to please than anybody else,” she said.
Rutendo’s repertoire at solo concerts included her own original tracks such as “Should I Marry Him For Money?” with a sprinkling of traditional compositions like “Nhemhamusasa”.
At group performances Rutendo would incorporate the traditional songs and a rendition of Chiwoniso Maraire’s “Vakuru Vanorapa”.
Fellow artistes also got a taste of Zimbabwe’s traditional dances as Rutendo taught them mhande, amabhiza and mbakumba.
The last stop for Ethno 2012 was in Denmark where her promotional CDs were sold out.
“Someone even bought my mbira as a souvenir!”.
During the tour, there were music workshops, conducted under the supervision of artistic directors and organised concerts where artists would showcase their skills.
Rutendo said she felt honoured to be Zimbabwe’s sole representative at this vibrant cultural platform, where she became a cultural ambassador.
“Coming from a country of which is not known in those parts of the world I had to correct some misconceptions that people had about Zimbabwe and Africa,” she said.
Most participants were drawn from European countries like England, Sweden, Croatia, Denmark and Belgium while artistes from Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Palestine, India and South Korea added some cultural diversity.
With over 100 participants, Ethno Sweden was the largest, followed by Ethno Croatia and Ethno Denmark with 30 and 28 participants respectively. During her month-long sojourn Rutendo learnt how the host European countries structured their arts and entertainment sectors.
“There is a deep appreciation of art and cultural activities, while the fiscus also provides funding for these activities,” she said.
Rutendo believes that with vision and persistence, Zimbabwe can achieve excellence and sustainability in its arts sector.
She said children should be exposed to music, especially traditional forms, as early as pre-school, as it was central part of their identity.
“Since I only discovered traditional music in my teens, I always feel like a part of me is missing,” she said.
With her database packed with over 50 new songs and musical traditions she learnt, Rutendo has promised to unveil them gradually. All things being equal, she is likely to return to Europe soon as a number of Swedish bands and individuals have invited her to participate in various festivals.
Meanwhile, Rutendo will focus on personal development and the establishment of a solo career while still attached to Savannah Afros.
l Richard Kohola is a music critic and development expert and can be contacted on 0772 382 871 or email email@example.com